As his impeachment trial gets underway, President Donald Trump’s legal team is squaring off against a group of House Democrats tapped by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to serve as impeachment managers.
The leader of that group is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), someone who has been at the forefront of efforts to remove the president from office from the beginning. However, a key obstacle standing in the way of Schiff’s overriding goal of achieving Trump’s ouster could in fact be the congressman’s very own words.
As Breitbart reported, Trump defense attorney Jay Sekulow demonstrated that on Tuesday by shining a spotlight on some of the California Democrat’s past statements on the topics of executive privilege and compliance with congressional subpoenas.
Double standard on display
The president is accused of obstructing the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry by instructing executive branch employees not to comply with subpoenas, asserting the executive privilege that presidents are almost universally afforded.
However, Sekulow noted that Schiff very memorably had no objections to then-Attorney General Eric Holder doing precisely the same thing back in 2012.
Holder was held in contempt of Congress when he refused to provide documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious gun-walking operation in which firearms were allowed to be sold to straw buyers in an attempt to ultimately bring members of Mexican drug cartels to justice.
A number of deaths were linked to the operation, including that of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. A Fast and Furious-linked weapon was even recovered when notorious drug lord El Chapo Guzman was taken into custody, according to The Washington Post.
Past defense of executive privilege
Despite the severity of the situation, Schiff saw nothing wrong with Holder invoking executive privilege to keep congressional Republicans from looking deeper into the matter, a view that he expressed clearly in an article for Politico.
“The White House assertion of privilege is backed by decades of precedent that has recognized the need for the president and his senior advisers to receive candid advice and information from their top aides,” Schiff wrote at the time.
What’s more, Schiff actually used the Fast and Furious scandal as an opportunity to push for more gun control.
“Pressing forward with the ATF rules requiring reporting when an individual buys more than one high-powered rifle along the border, as the administration is pursuing, or passing legislation to crack down on gun traffickers and those that provide them with weapons, as I have proposed, would give investigators and prosecutors the tools they have asked for and need,” he opined back in 2012.
A federal court ultimately disagreed with the Obama administration’s claim of executive privilege, ruling in 2016 that the documents in question did in fact have to be released to the House committee that sought them, according to USA Today.